Zipper Frames Test (Phase 1)

Dynamic Seismic Response of Steel Braced Frames with Innovative Bracing Configurations


On Wednesday December 8, 2004 we have conducted shake table testing of a 3-story, 62 kips (~30 mtons), steel frame model equipped with advanced braces ("Zipper Frames") on one of the two new seismic simulators of the new NEES expansion of the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering (CSEE) at the University at Buffalo (State University of New York)

The newly expanded laboratory features two state of the art seismic simulators, each of 50-ton capacity, a strong floor, a strong reaction wall, and an array of high speed and high load actuators. The laboratory also features unique tele-observation and tele-participation capabilities, which were demonstrated during the test of December 8, 2004. Developed at a cost of nearly $21.2 million, with funding from the National Science Foundation, the (NY) State University Construction Fund, and the University at Buffalo, this facility represents a flagship laboratory of NSF's George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). NEES, the national network of laboratories, became operational in October 2004. For a description of NEES and SEESL, please visit our home page.

Zipper Frame Structure

Zipper Frames

The testing is part of a collaboration project between several Universities, i.e. Georgia Tech, University of Colorado at Bolder, University of California at Berkeley, Florida A&M University, and University at Buffalo, sponsored by NSF, the division of Civil and Mechanical Systems (CMS)- Award # CMS-0324277 as one of the preliminary NEES-R projects. The project will utilize the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) facilities at UB, UCB, and CU, as well as the large-scale experimental facility at GT to test structural components and systems to provide comprehensive data for the development of analytical models and design recommendations.

The project is simultaneously developed by teams of researchers and graduate students. The project is coordinated by the team at Georgia Tech who provides the guidelines for the design of the models and studies quasistatic behavior of the frame. The team at Buffalo performs full dynamic studies of the frames. The team at Berkeley and the team at Boulder perform joint distributed pseudo-dynamic testing on two parts of the frame. (More details about the role of each team can be found in the documents linked to their names).

The evaluation of the model structure to be tested at Univeristy at Buffalo and the preliminary analyses of the expected behavior showed that the test will undergo inelastic deformations and braces' buckling under strong ground motions. The test instrumentation, monitoring, and observations were planned and developed by one group of students as part of the class project in the course Experimental Methods in Structural Engineering (CIE616)at the University at Buffalo during the Fall 2004 semester and for their training on use of NEES facilities.


The testing was broadcasted on the internet on Wednesday, December 8, 2004. The test was broadcasted through several cameras, one of them providing live explanations on test progress. If you missed the real time action you are still able to watch the testing. The broadcast is archived for future viewing on this website. Please, see below.

Andrei M Reinhorn, PhD, PE
Director SEESL 
Project Director, Collaboration Project
Michel Bruneau, PhD, PEng,
Director MCEER
Co-PI, Collaboration Project

Additional Information

SEESL - Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory
212 Ketter Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA
phone. +1(716)645-3019       fax. +1(716)645-3733